Is the glass half-full or half-empty for business growth in the Boston Metro Area? It depends who you talk to! Sentiment was mixed at the recent 2013 Massachusetts Business Climate Summit, sponsored by the Boston Business Journal and State House News Service.
At the summit, local business leaders provided insights and feedback regarding the opportunities and obstacles for company growth in Massachusetts. Businesses represented at the summit included a variety of industries, providing a broad base of discussion.
Please keep in mind that these are opinions, and not the results of intensive studies. Still, they are interesting to note.
The following observations were positive:
- Low cost of natural gas
- Highly-educated workforce
- Seaport provides international business opportunities
- Longevity of Boston businesses
The negative observations included these opinions:
- Slow government response to business needs
- Inadequate transportation systems throughout Massachusetts
Countering the opinion about transportation, was a point made by John Hailer, CEO of Natixis Global Asset Management. He cited Highway 128 as an example of a government project that was initially seen as wasteful, but was later proven to be an asset to economic growth. Yet the current government inertia seems to prevent bold initiatives to foster growth, perhaps in fear of consequences at the polls.
Meanwhile, a survey of business news subscribers found that 46% believe Massachusetts has a better business climate than the rest of the nation.
NIMBY, otherwise known as “Not In My Back Yard” can also hold back business, according to Greg Bialecki, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development. He says some of the resistance to business occurs at the local level, due to resident pushback against zoning changes. He spoke of an example in Lexington, where community angst prevented a bio-pharmaceutical company from moving in. The high-paying jobs and boon to the tax base did not win over local residents, who wanted Lexington to remain residential.
Taken as a whole, the summit evidenced that the perception of business conditions and government support, can affect the business climate.
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